ST. JOSEPH, MO — LifeLine Foods, Inc. celebrated the completion of its $12 million masa mill expansion on Sept. 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its plant in St. Joseph.
The expanded mill will allow LifeLine to increase its presence producing high-quality masa products in the rapidly growing Mexican food industry in the United States.
“Masa is a corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales, chips and other products,” said Kevin Kelly, president and chief executive officer of LifeLine Foods. “Today, tortillas not only outsell white sandwich bread, but also hot dog and hamburger buns. Masa is perceived as healthier, and there is tremendous growth in Hispanic cuisine. This expansion gives us the opportunity to aggressively compete in this category.”
He said LifeLine Foods was positioned for extensive growth over the next five years.
“Looking at and leaning into key consumer market trends has helped shape our growth strategy,” Mr. Kelly said. “The capital investments we made in our specialty mill a year ago, which produces Non-GMO Project verified and USDA-certified organic products, as well as our now completed masa mill expansion are evidence of listening to what the market is telling us for growth.
“We also have invested heavily in our own people. We have a very strong team with decades of experience within the masa category.”
As part of the masa mill expansion, LifeLine invested more than $10 million over the last year, $3 million of which was invested in local contractors.
“We process nearly 26 million bushels of corn per year and the corn we use in our facility is grown right here in Northwest Missouri, Northeast Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re appreciative of the city of St. Joseph, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and the state of Missouri for their support of our expansion. As LifeLine continues to grow, we are proud that we can continue to grow our presence in the region.”
Joining Mr. Kelly at the ceremony were Michelle Clark, chief financial officer of LifeLine, and Brad Lau, vice president of economic development at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, as well as state representatives Bill Falkner and Brenda Shields, Matt Barry from Congressman Sam Graves’ office, Elizabeth Johnson from Senator Josh Hawley’s office, and Brandt Shields from Senator Roy Blunt’s office. Additionally, St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray and presiding Buchanan County Commissioner Lee Sawyer were present.
“We are pleased to officially congratulate the team and local contractors who completed the project today,” Mr. Kelly said.
Founded in 2001, LifeLine Foods produces food ingredients such as corn grits, corn meals, pre-gelatinized corn flour and masa. The cooperative is owned by 650 farmer-owners in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri,
With more than 150 employees, LifeLine’s 780,000-square-foot SQF Level 2-certified milling facility is located within the Corn Belt in St. Joseph.